Saturday, May 3rd, 2014
By William Kincaid
New voting procedure designed to limit wait
Election officials will launch a new, countywide voting procedure Tuesday they hope will reduce waiting times at the polls.
After a successful pilot test in Rockford during the general election in November, the board of elections decided to institute "Any Line, Any Time" at all polling locations in Mercer County.
"I think it will cut down on waiting time. I think that it will improve the accuracy of the provisional ballots that are cast and I think it's going to be easier for the voters," board of elections deputy director Laura Bruns said.
All polling sites in the county accommodate at least two voting precincts. Instead of hosting different sign-in stations for each, poll workers will direct voters to a single table to obtain their ballots.
"We're going to have poll workers on one main table," Bruns said. "When people walk in they'll be greeted at the door ... then they'll proceed up to this regular line."
For example, all voters residing in the townships of Dublin, Hopewell, Liberty and Blackcreek will get their ballots - either a card to insert into an electronic voting machine or a traditional paper ballot, depending on the voter's preference - from one table at the Rockford Community Building.
"I think the main thing to stress here is that you no longer need to know your precinct when you come in," board of elections director Deb Sneddon added. "When you come in, it's like a hotel check-in, you just go to the next available person."
Officials have linked electronic poll books so they contain information on voters in every precinct at the polling site.
"The key to this is that these electronic poll books that they look you up in, are all linked together so once you go to this station, you can't go vote and then (vote again)," Bruns said.
Precinct lines at polling locations previously could become unbalanced.
"You always had people waiting in line for St. Henry North, and meanwhile, the four workers of Granville East are sitting over there (at their table) with nothing to do - there's no way they could help," Bruns said.
There are 29,290 registered voters in Mercer County.
Tuesday's ballot includes statewide party races for the nomination of governor, attorney general, auditor, secretary of state, treasurer, supreme court, court of appeals and state central committee members, as well as U.S. senate and U.S. congressional seats.
State Issue I, a proposed constitutional amendment to fund public infrastructure capital improvements by permitting the issuance of general obligation bonds also is on the ballot.
Locally, Greg Homan and Jeff Buschor are vying for nomination in the Republican primary for the county commissioner seat currently held by John Bruns. No Democrats are running for the position.
Also to be decided is a five-year, 1.94-mill renewal levy for the Mercer County Developmental Disabilities agency for general operations of Cheryl Ann Programs, and a 1-mill property tax renewal levy that funds the Mercer County Home.
Residents also can cast votes for Mercer County central committee members for the Democratic party, as well as for several candidates running unopposed and issues specific to village or school districts.
As of Friday afternoon, 548 absentee ballots had been issued to residences, delivered to nursing homes or voted on in person at the board of elections office.
Early voting ended today, Sneddon said.
A handful of 17-year-olds who will turn 18 before the general election in November are eligible to nominate candidates but not vote on issues or Democratic committee members, according to Bruns.
"They have to vote on paper and then the board reviews those ballots," Bruns said.
The polls, manned by about 172 workers, will be open Tuesday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Officials will begin tabulating absentee ballots at 7:30 p.m.
• Precincts A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, East Jefferson North, East Jefferson South, West Jefferson and Center Township: Galleria, 909 E. Wayne St.
• Coldwater West, Coldwater Central, Coldwater Northeast, Coldwater Southeast, Butler East and Butler West: Coldwater Municipal Center, 610 W. Sycamore St.
• St. Henry North, St. Henry South, Granville East and Granville West: St. Henry American Legion, 341 W. Main Street.
• Fort Recovery Village, Gibson Township, Recovery Township and Washington Township: Fort Recovery American Legion Post 345, 2490 state Route 49.
• Rockford Village, Dublin Township, Hopewell Township, Liberty Township and Blackcreek Township: Rockford Community Building, 402 Holly Lane.
• Mendon and Union Township: Mendon Union Fire Station, 103 Drake St.
• Marion East and Marion West: American Legion Post 571, 8140 state Route 119, Maria Stein.
• Franklin East and Franklin West: Franklin Township Building, 6805 state Route 219.